As Dr. Daran H. Mitchell preached about justice with stories from the Bible, he stressed that there’s still more work to do.
“We’ve been crashing for the last 100 years,” Mitchell said. “From the Wilmington riots to the Chicago riots, we’ve been crashing for years. Same place. We get up, climb up … crash.”
Mitchell served as the keynote speaker for the 19th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet for the Sampson County branch of the NAACP. The theme was “Is There Not a Cause.” Mitchell, the pastor of Trinity AME Zion Church, also serves as the director of religious affairs for the Greensboro Branch of the NAACP. Saturday’s event at the Agri-Expo Center is a major fundraiser for the local branch.
This year’s Freedom Fund Banquet marked the 110th anniversary of NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. The mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”
“Those who do not have the temerity or the audacity to be offended by what we’re seeing in this raw political climate, should have their head and hearts seriously examined,” Mitchell said about legislators in Washington, D.C. and Raleigh.
During his remarks, also challenged NAACP chapters to do more in the fight against social inequality.
“Any NAACP chapter that spends more time planning banquets and do not plan demonstrations should turn their chapter number in and find a social club because we have no time for foolishness,” Mitchell said. “Lines of demarcation have been drawn. Lines have been drawn in the sand. We are divided globally and domestically. We are divided among the lines of race, ethnicity, class, gender, culture, tribe and environmental degradation threatens to explode our division into a world of perpetual conflict.
“Jim Wallace is right — both liberal and conservatives are inadequate to deal with the challenges before us,” he continued. “We need a new morality that is not based on a donkey or an elephant.”
He continued to preach and related the Bible’s story of David and Goliath to people fighting against injustice. He spoke about how David used different armor and tools to win over Goliath using rocks from a sling.
“Sampson County, don’t you dare cower under the threat that may come your way,” Mitchell said. “You stand up and let your voice be heard because I believe that God has give us the tools that we need.”
Larry Sutton, 2nd Vice President for Sampson NAACP, emphasized the importance of people stepping up to the challenge.
“We have been presented a challenge that we don’t want to fall short on,” Sutton said
Sutton was one of many presenters during the night. Some of the others included Clinton Mayor Lew Starling; Christine Dillard, NAACP co-chair; and the Rev. Jimmy Melvin, religious emphasis co-chair for the Sampson County NAACP. Along with other community members, youths were also encouraged to become involved with the organization. Sutton said he wanted to see churches sponsor youths to increase membership.
Willie Mitchell, an executive board member for Sampson County’s NAACP, was honored with the President’s Award for his dedication, commitment and service. Like others, Mitchell will continue to support the mission of the organization. President Lee Byam said Mitchell is always ready to help whenever he’s called upon.
“It’s an organization that’s well needed in our county,” Mitchell said. “I’m pleased to be a member and the servant of the organization.”
The Community Service Award was presented to the Rev. Thaddeus Godwin by Luther Moore, 1st vice president of the Sampson County Branch of of the NAACP. Godwin, pastor of the Lisbon St. Missionary Baptist Church, was honored for community outreach. Some of his work involves the Sampson County Board of Commissioners, the Scholarship Foundation for Sampson Community College, the Department of Social Services and the National Night Out at Newkirk Park.
During his remarks, Godwin said it was a special moment to receive the award. He said growing up in Sampson County molded him to be the person he is today.
“I truly want to thank each person in this room who touched my life,” Godwin said. “Coming back, I’m just so grateful to what God allowed me to do. I just want to say thank you.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.